KEEPING foot and mouth disease out of herds and flocks falls firmly on the shoulders of producers, despite the enormous social media attention currently being given to Bali holiday makers.
Australia has plenty of depth in its border defence and all that is possible is being done to help Indonesia bring its outbreak under control.
Australian farms simply had to become their own quarantine zones now. Producers are arguably the biggest risk to themselves.
This sentiment came through loud and clear in a recent webinar hosted by the Victorian Farmers Federation featuring the head of the federal government's national animal disease taskforce Dr Chris Parker and principal officer of emergency animal disease at Agriculture Victoria's chief veterinary officer's unit Dr Megan Scott.
Dr Scott said there was no one person or organisation capable of protecting Australia from FMD on their own - it would take cooperation and commitment from everyone.
For producers, that meant implementing their own prevention measures and remaining constantly alert to signs of the disease.
"I'd like to see a culture in disease preparedness similar to the way we prepare for bushfires," Dr Scott said.
"Prepare your farm and look out for the smoke signals. That lameness could be your early warning sign, be on constant alert."
It was the same message and the same information that had been circulating for decades - basic biosecurity protocols - but today it really carried the future of the industry on its shoulders, the webinar was told.
"Some of it is inconvenient and it does involve cost but that's the reality of keeping Australia safe from foot and mouth," Dr Scott said.
"You simply have to implement a quarantine-like situation on your farm."
What to do
- Put in place a comprehensive farm biosecurity plan.
- Set up internal paddocks so stock are kept away from external fences.
- Have a second entrance for farm deliveries, or a receival depot at the front gate.
- Put the emergency animal disease watch hotline 1800 675 888 on speed dial.
- Know what to look for in stock.
- Always get a vendor declaration when purchasing stock.
- Restrict all access to your animals.
- Have a pair of boots and clothing just for the farm.
Further, Dr Parker said if farmers were coming back from a holiday in Bali they should be thinking about quarantining for five to seven days before returning to their property.
He said the biosecurity settings at Australia's borders meant we were starting from a much higher base than many other countries.
When the Indonesians first diagnosed FMD, a step-up in activities at the border was immediately implemented and then another step-up occurred after the Bali confirmation, he said.
The latest step-up included officers boarding planes before people disembarked to raise awareness.